In case you missed the exciting news, it’s Guest Bloggers’ Week! And today Lisa Samuel and McKenzie Hall — registered dietitians and nutritionists and co-founders of Nourish RDs — are sharing some ways to learn to eat mindfully and a fabulous raspberry chia pudding recipe! YUM!
How much do you think about eating? Not necessarily what you’re eating, but how you’re eating. Do you eat standing up? While driving? While watching TV? You’re not alone. Most of us practice distracted eating, which can add up to eating more (or sometimes less) than we need.
Studies show we make about 250 decisions about food every day, and most of those we’re not even aware of. When we learn to eat mindfully, to stop and take control of the decisions we make around food, we gain so much power for ourselves!
Think about how good you feel when you are well-nourished, well-rested and energetic. That’s what we want for ourselves all the time — and we can achieve it! Mindful eating means slowing down and listening to what our body needs. When we learn to honor our cravings and our needs, we develop healthy habits for our body and our soul.
How to Practice Mindful Eating
Practice these exercises daily and learn to eat mindfully.
Stop and breathe. Before you begin eating your next meal or snack, pause for a moment. Take a deep breath to connect yourself to your body and the present moment. Notice how you are feeling. How hungry are you? What sensations do you feel in your body, and where do you feel them? Are you eating because you’re hungry, or because you’re tired, bored, angry, happy or celebratory?
Think. Take a few seconds to think about what you are getting ready to eat. What is it? Do you want to eat it? Do you like it? Is it good for you? Is it something you’re craving? Give yourself a few moments to consider whether this food is worthy of your taste buds, of your body. If it is, take a bite.
Taste.Concentrate on what you are eating for a moment. How does it taste? Is it soft, crunchy, salty, sweet, spicy? Describe it to yourself. Do you like it?
Pause and breathe. As you eat, pause between bites to notice how you feel. Are you still hungry? Have you had enough food? Are you satisfied? Those questions might have different answers. How do you feel?
Take time. Try to stretch your meal out to last at least 20 minutes. Does this seem difficult? It really does take about 20 minutes for your brain to catch up with your stomach to realize that you’re full. If you make your meals last longer, you’ll realize you’re full (and hopefully satisfied) at just the right time, with the right amount of food for you.
Forget the ‘clean plate’ club. Growing up, many of us learned to finish everything on our plate, regardless of whether we wanted more food or not. While none of us want to waste food, we don’t do our body any good by eating more than we want or need. If you’re at home, learn to serve yourself smaller portions to start, knowing you can always go back and get more. When eating out, ask for a box to take the leftovers home.
How do you feel? After you’ve eaten, notice how your body feels. Still empty? Just right? Uncomfortably full? Again, pause and take a deep breath. Connecting to your body, your body sensations and your feelings takes practice. A lot of practice. But if you pause, breathe and listen each time you eat, you will learn to understand your body, and your own hunger and fullness.
Practice this exercise daily and discover — or rediscover — the pleasure of eating good food, food that tastes good and makes us feel good! Finding pleasure in food is one of the keys to learning to eat just the right amount. When you savor each bite, relishing how the food tastes and makes you feel, it takes less to satisfy your body and your taste buds. Food is supposed to be enjoyed and savored — not feared. Eat with the abundant thankfulness for the pleasure and nourishment we receive from food.
Raspberry Chia Pudding Recipe
To get you started on a mindful eating path, here’s a nourishing breakfast or snack that’s packed with protein, fiber, good fats and healthy carbohydrates. It also has great texture and flavors that make it perfect for a mindful eating exercise. We hope you enjoy it!
- ¾ cup of milk or milk substitute (like almond milk)
- 2 dates, pitted
- 1 cup frozen raspberries
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- Place the milk (or milk substitute) into a blender with the dates and the raspberries. Blend until the dates and raspberries are pureed.
- Pour the mixture into a glass container or mason jar. Add the chia seeds and stir. Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours to overnight. You may want to stir the mixture a few times in the first hour to distribute the seeds.
- After the pudding has set, remove from the refrigerator and enjoy!
You can find more of our non-diet and mindful eating advice on our blog and Facebook! —Lisa and McKenzie